Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don't forget, we were all beginners once!

Do you remember your first days riding? A member of Rounder's posted this video of his friend practicing in a parking lot. It really made me smile thinking back on those tentative days of ridership.

My first bike, the K75, came home in a pick up truck. I'd never ridden it. My motorcycle license was all of 3 days old when I bought it. I'd never done more than 2nd gear on a 250cc. I had my friend test ride. The first time I took it off the center stand in the garage, I dropped it (and I was on it!). I broke a rear view mirror. I ordered the wrong replacement mirror and was to embarrassed to say so, to this day that is why the K75 has asymmetric mirrors.

I had a friend come over to spot me as I descended my 4,000+ ft dirt driveway. I made it out to the cull-de-sac road, turned at the end and dropped the bike, popping off a signal. We popped it back on, I drove to the other end, turned around and dropped it again...put the signal back on. A few days later I took it for a ride to my friends house, I parked it and it promptly fell down...the kickstand does not stay out when the clutch is still engaged... When I needed gas, I circled the town so that I'd be taking a right into the gas station, this maneuver when on for some time! It wasn't until a year or so later, when I joined a BMW club, did I learn that everyone drops their K bikes. Then I was finally able to laugh it off.

ERC Class
This weekend I took another ERC class.(experienced riders course). I would recommend it to anyone. There were 12 people in the class, experience ranging from green to 35+ years. Myself, this is my 10th season and I have over 100,000 miles under my belt. But I have plenty of areas for improvements - low speed, small space U turns for instance.
I did kick butt in the braking portion of the show. Not hard to do if you have the right equipment. The instructor wanted me to use 4 fingers on the brakes, I said "no way" it's 2 fingers all the time. There is no strength component to my brakes, it's all electronic. When I did the brake test and came in 3 feet short of my allowed braking distance, he nodded and said "Ok, 2 fingers"

I also did well in the prepared for bad weather category. Thumbs up to the one Harley guy who pulled a full face helmet out of his top box when it started raining. 8 others rode home with just a beenie on.
Who'll stop the rain?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Is the Road Calling You?

I've been pouring over my 2007 trip picture for an upcoming article and I've been fixated with the road shots.
If you long for the road...this collection might get you to gear up!

US2 WI, MN, ND? What does it matter?

MT200 - One of my top 10 pictures of the trip.
Lisa looks for flowers

Idaho 20, Extreme straightness!
Idaho, when will it ever end?

ID 20/26 Near Craters of the Moon National Monument
IDAHO 20/26

Eastern Washington State WA26 or WA27, just West of Pullman
Eastern Washington State

CA96 One of the best roads we traveled.
CA 96

Rte 138 Oregon, leaving Crater Lake
Rte138 Leaving Crater Lake

Black Hills of South Dakota, it was 105 degrees, I think the road was melting.
SD Black Hills

Saturday, June 14, 2008

DOT Planter

DOT Basil
When I first met Kevin he was the kind of New Hampshire rider that rode with no helmet. His idea of gear was a Harley Davidson half helmet. He even had one of those "for novelty purposes only" helmets. Over time my riding gear habits and those of my friends started rubbing off on him, and he bought his first full face helmet. For a while he switched between the two.
Kevin's First Full Face Helmet

The tipping point came in 2006 when a close friend of mine was creamed by a U-turning jeep. As we walked out of the rehab center after visiting her Kevin declared he would never again ride without his full face helmet. I was sad for my friend in rehab but this was something good that came of it.

Less than a month after his declaration, Kevin was on his way to work, came over a rise in the road and found traffic stopped, he broke hard and high sided the bike. He flew over the handlebars and came down face first. His full face HJC helmet saved his bacon.

Shortly after that, he agreed with me that it was time to get rid of his half helmets. Now I'll sell just about anything in the house on Ebay, but I would not sell those helmets, I feel very strongly that no one should be wearing them.

Half Helmet Planter

Drain Holes for helmet planter
So one spring morning, I spread out some newspaper, grabbed a drill and put some drain holes right through the Harley helmet and made myself a planter. Last year I had a successfully geranium and this year we're growing DOT Basil.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Tank Away...is OK

Province Lake, Effingham, NH Day at the Lake

Everybody is talking about the price of gas, filling up a motorcycle has become real money. I have a range of about 170 miles on my K12GT, that's about 40 mpg. Not all that efficient. I can afford to keep filling up, question is, do I want to? For the past 5 years I've packed on the miles, about 20,000 a year. There are many meaningless miles in that pile. In the past year or so, I've been trying to make those miles more meaningful.

The price of gas is a good excuse to explore closer to home. I've not explored New Hampshire for years! I was reminded of that this weekend when Kevin and I headed up to Mount Washington. It's a crown jewel of a New England riding experience, the best auto road on the east, right in my back yard, and I've been ignoring it for far flung destinations.

With my SD750 strapped around my neck, and my Canon Rebel in the bag we headed North. Here are some pictures from the weekend. I hope you get out and explore your home state too!

A Rare Clear Day - 61 degrees at the summit!
Clear Day on Mt Washington

Scenic Vista...not much traffic
Scenic Vista

Got Guard Rails?
Mt Washington Auto Road

Got Pavement?
Mt Washington Auto Road

Cog Railway
Mt Washington Cog Railway

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sometimes it's the Trip Not the Transportation

I enjoyed the nice comments from my last post, riding in adverse conditions strikes a chord with people. But I have a confession to make...I love my car too. If you find this statement to be sacrilege - then I guess you need to hit a ride report link over to the right. You won't catch me referring to my car as a cage. I remember the freedom associated with obtaining my license at 17 and I still enjoy the sense of freedom associated with driving (and of course riding). Until recently, I'd put 25-30,000 miles a year on my car, what a shame it would be if I thought I was caged.

Lisa and I were reminded this weekend, that there is a time and a place for everything, even a car. We headed to my brother's, almost 4 hours, away for a birthday party, I had hoped to take the bike; Lisa has not been out for a good long ride in a good long while. But the weather forecast called for severe thunder showers. We hopped in the car, and in 30 minutes it was raining with such force that we could not hear each other over the noise! We both agreed that the car was the place to be! Arriving for a family party looking like a drowned rat would not have been a favorable outcome either.

3 Photographers

We made an unplanned stop in downtown Hartford, CT. Lisa had my SD750 and I had my new Rebel and hung out and took pictures. The skies had cleared by then. It was a fun little trip, even if it was by car.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend. I really like my new camera and am trying new effects with it.

City Sites

Capitol Dome
Hartford Capitol

Carousel Horse
Carousel Horse

Not a Pretty Picture at All! (ok, now I wish I had the bike)
Gas Prices - $4.25